Ask These 3 Crucial Questions About Your HVAC Systems

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to maximize energy usage. According to the latest statistics from the United States Department of Energy, climate control costs make up around 48 percent of residential energy bills nationwide. Since that’s about half the gas or electricity consumed inside your home, finding ways to slash your expenses is not only part of a smart short-term strategy but also an astute move for long-term savings. With this in mind, it’s time to ask yourself three significant questions to determine how to invest time, energy, and money to improve your HVAC’s energy efficiency.

How Old Is My Thermostat?

Technological innovations have brought a vast number of in-home conveniences, including programmable thermostats. A 2015 Popular Mechanics piece explains how these devices can help save energy by shifting furnace temperatures down 10 to 15 degrees while you’re not at home or asleep. This move may result in a 10 percent reduction in your heating bill. While basic models price out as low as $25, more “smart models” learn your schedule and usage habits and adjusts temperatures up or down to compensate.

The same principles and upgrades also work for your air conditioning mechanisms, too. Many programmable thermostats, including smart models, dub for both your heating and cooling systems. Advanced versions, which started hitting the consumer market around 2013, can even be programmed and adjusted remotely thanks to smartphone apps, and some editions switch between fan-only and full A/C functionalities to keep your interiors cool more cost-effectively. Overall, ENERGY STAR projects savings of up to $180 annual from the use of programmable climate control.

Are My Ducts Cleaned and Sealed?

Leaks in your heating and cooling ducts can also leak money out of your wallet. ENERGY STAR estimates that you can improve efficiency by up to 20 percent simply by sealing these seepages. Need to know where to target your efforts? ENERGY STAR recommends:

  •          Sealing ducts through your attic, crawlspaces, basements, and garage
  •          Using duct sealant or metal-backed foil tape to close seams and connections
  •          Cocooning ducts with insulative material
  •          Sealing accessible ducts in the heated or cooled portions of your home

There’s also evidence that a regular cleaning may improve efficiency. Additionally, you could help sidestep problems such as mold growth and vermin infestations as well as cut back on the presence of allergens inside your house. According to a July 2015 Angie’s List article, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association advises a thorough cleaning every three to five years. Keep in mind that cleaning on its own won’t enhance better energy consumption, but should be integrated as part of your overall strategy.

Is It Time to Swap Out My Equipment?

Your HVAC equipment has been heating and cooling right along, and maybe you’ve got no complaints. However, the U.S. Department of Energy advises replacement if your systems are greater than 10 years old. Switching older units for new ENERGY STAR labeled versions can result in annual energy savings of around $115. To find the right models for your home, it’s a good idea to consult your HVAC professional and ensure you’ve rectified any major air leaks inside your ducts, walls, or other structures.

It takes a little diligence, an honest evaluation of your current situation, and possible investments in better equipment to boost energy efficiency inside your home. However, taking smart steps can lead to both large and small payoffs both immediately and in the long run. Some moves to consider include switching to programmable thermostats, keeping your ducts sealed and clean, and trading in older equipment for new versions with the ENERGY STAR label. With the right maintenance and upgrades, you’ll spend less to heat and cool your home.

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